Meditation: Noticing what we are

 

Someone asked me yesterday what meditation is, and as usual I didn’t quite know what to say, apart from mentioning that there are many types and describing briefly the most easily explained type of inviting attention to stabilize.

What it really is about, of course, is noticing what we really are. But that sounds perhaps too grandiose. I could say something simple like are you your body, or are your body in you? which invites people to look there and then, but in a casual social setting that seems a little contrived too.

The truth is that what we are, and what meditation really is about, is too simple to put in words very easily. It easily sounds too naive. It is, in many ways, too obvious. And in other ways, too weird. And using fancy words from tradition – Brahman, Buddha Mind, Tao and so on – makes it sound far more abstract, exotic and unreachable than it is.

So asking are you in the body, or the body in you? is maybe not a bad approach. It may at least spark some curiosity, or rather bring attention to a curiosity that is naturally there.

Another way to word the same question is are you content of experience, or that which content of experience happens within and as? I can notice that I am not a part of content of experience to the exclusion of other parts, even if that is my habitual way of identifying and the way I have learned to identify through others and our culture. I am that which experience happens within. And I am that which experience happens as, whatever that experience may be.

This is really the default way of experiencing, but since we spend so much time and energy to identify as a part of content of experience to the exclusion of other content, it feels like going against the stream. It goes against what culture tells us to do. And there is a discomfort there, a sense of uneasiness, of something terribly possibly happening if we go there.

Also, as mentioned above, it can seem ridicously naive. Far too simple. And too weird compared to how we are used to experiencing ourselves.

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